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Poster: wisconsindead Date: Aug 1, 2011 6:14pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

Howdy partners,

I've realized many of you guys n gals out there aren't too fond of the latter years. I think some reasons for not liking these years are obvious...

You don't like...
-Brent
-His Voice
-Lack of longer jams (short other ones, rare dark stars etc.)
-Choice of songs
-Good songs gone (cryptical, viola, alligator etc.)

But in all honesty, disregarding what isn't there, and from strictly a listeners perspective (i was never there), what sucks so much about the brent and beyond years?

Sure the dead were falling apart in the 90s, yet there is still great stuff in those years, just much less frequent. ANd the 80's... I find great stuff all of the time. Sure no 30 minute raging other one, lovelight or dark stars, but they were a great band in the 80s playing quite well. So why is it you guys think the playing is so bad? when many of us find it to be soo good.

My discussion with Cliff about Jack Straw got me thinking that I would like to see things from your shoes to understand whats missing. We seem to look at J Straw differently, so obviously the 80's haters are seeing things differently than I.

Your thoughts please...

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Poster: RBNW....new and improved! Date: Aug 2, 2011 4:53am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

i love the eighties...

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Poster: leftwinger57 Date: Aug 2, 2011 6:10am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

I'm going to agree pretty much w/ LIA has to say. With that
it's just right place right time hit or miss w/ me. As most of you know I ripp them royaly when they deserve it, but I got to tell some of the Spectrum shows in Philly in the 80s were fine for me. I'm not a set list or date type of guy so the exact shows have no date but I always know what I hear and like.
That old gag there's nothing like a Grateful Dead concert ,well it's close,and my mantra has always been when they're good they are the best at what they do and a great time was had by all ,but when they're bad they are fucking horrible .That's the way I always called it and will whenever debating this band.I walked out on a couple of occasions because you just knew it wasn't getting any better and cut my losses and went to club in North Beach or whatever to get away from there.My history goes pretty far back as the Fillmore East shows then moving west to catch multiple shows in the bay area including the closing of Winterland,WOS at the Cow Palace, DOTG w/The Beach Boys, DOTG w/ The Who , many New Years shows, The Orphium and Warfield, and many others to numerous and boring to list but included the following in theaters,inside arenas, outside stadiums, parks, so I know I've seen enough variations of this band to be a fair judge.

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Poster: Jacky Hughes Date: Aug 2, 2011 12:06pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

I like 1979 to 1982. After that the rot set in I am afraid.

I agree that Brent's electric piano sound could get very annoying sometimes, but nevertheless he was still a good keyboard player. His B3 playing more than compensated.

As I said before, I though JGB were on fire during 1979 and 1980.

I find anything after 1984 un-listenable.

Edited for year typo.

This post was modified by Jacky Hughes on 2011-08-02 19:06:34

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Poster: Diamondhead Date: Aug 1, 2011 7:13pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

Ditto what Dennis and Stratocaster said. Plus the sound changes and the songs. And for me, as I have gotten older, there is only so much time to listen to my music, so I listen only to what I want to listen to most. And there's lots of 60s and 70s shows that I adore.

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Poster: clementinescaboose Date: Aug 1, 2011 11:25pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: OK, here's what I do like

I often joke around about how much the '80s and beyond suck, but I don't hate them exactly. Everyone seems to have covered why it just isn't as good very well, and for the most part I couldn't agree more. But the '80s and '90s have definitely grown on me in recent years.

One thing I notice (sorry if this is repetitive) is that, even starting in the late '70s the band seem to be jamming more on the songs; i.e. stuff like Jack Straw and Deal were extended and got better.

Certain jams like Scarlet>Fire and Help>Slip>Franklin have some fantastic jam outs (see 7/31/82 or 9/6/83) and I think actually have some superior versions to the '70s.

I absolutely love the acoustic sets of the early '80s (see esp. 10/19/80 and 12/6/80), the Warfield and Radio City shows have some pretty memorable stuff. Fall '81 and the Europe tour also.

Jerry in the early '80s was excellent; I really enjoy his "fast and noodle-y" style of playing. Many folks who are more up on the technical aspects of guitar say he was at his best then, but the drugs hurt his technique a lot.

I still can't quite wrap my ears around the whole MIDI thing though, lol...

This post was modified by clementinescaboose on 2011-08-02 06:25:51

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Poster: hseamons Date: Aug 1, 2011 10:38pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

I think the band put on amazing shows all the way through '83, until they started doing that way pretentious Stonehenge stuff.

Wait, I'm confusing the Dead with Spinal Tap, but I'd say the Dead had more frequent amazing shows during the early 80's until the '84 Void (barring the summer '85 resurgence, which is like the best stuff from the mid 80's, hands down). Come on, if y'all ain't down with '83, then you ain't down. That includes '89-'90 era too. Some epic shows in those years.

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Poster: hseamons Date: Aug 1, 2011 11:13pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

I've been doing some thinking about my post, and I suppose I should listen to more '84 shows before calling it a "Void". I should also consult more '87-'88 shows before casting doubt on those years. I bet those years have some amazing nuggets as well that would put me and Hucker to shame. I know I've encountered some of the glory from those years already, but not much has left a very lasting impression on me.



This post was modified by hseamons on 2011-08-02 06:13:59

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Poster: jerlouvis Date: Aug 1, 2011 11:36pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

You read that post over and only found fault in questioning your 84' listening habits,yousaw nothing wrong with telling intelligent people who took the time to clearly express their opinions on the subject that since they did not share your view on 83' or 89'-90' they were not "down".Not that I could give a fuck about your feelings about my "down-ness",but before I get offensive I might recommend some introspection Hunter,for you seem to be out of whack in relation to how important your opinion is to other people,for example I find it of no value whatsoever,and would be perfectly fine never hearing another.

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Poster: wisconsindead Date: Aug 2, 2011 2:15pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

Do yourself a favor and go straight to

1984-03-31

http://www.archive.org/details/gd84-03-31.sbd.nawrocki.14078.sbeok.shnf

Trust me. The playing is more than excellent.

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Poster: deadpolitics Date: Aug 2, 2011 2:48pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

Yes, yes, and yes. This whole run is awesome. Hampton from a couple weeks later is also a good one from '84... some nice summer shows and the fall on the east coast, finishing up on the west coast is also well played and has some very nice moments.

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Poster: wisconsindead Date: Aug 2, 2011 3:14pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

I love the 1984-07-13 dark star. Thought it was well played for being gone as long as it was.

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Poster: hseamons Date: Aug 1, 2011 11:18pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

In any case, y'all better ask somebody if you don't really understand the glory that is 80's Dead.

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Poster: SomeDarkHollow Date: Aug 2, 2011 4:10am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

Excellent thread without the typical back and forth arguing. Well done everyone, really well thought out and compelling posts all around.

Me, well I think you all know I for one actually like the 80's. Well, first half of the 80's for the most part. Well, not ALL of the first half of the 80's. Unlike the almost gapless mastery of the early years, where the consistency of the band was truly remarkable, the 80's certainly lacked that feeling of a seamless voyage into excellence. With more lackluster shows that true gems, it is easy for many to write off this entire era, but I cannot do that. I find that among the crap, there are those nights where the band finds their feet again and put on a display of power and emotion that still makes my head explode. The band became more like a dragster than a sports car. No longer were they built for extended races where the engine almost effortlessly pushed for miles and miles at a stretch; its design and engineering so perfect that it became almost unnecessary to stop for gas. In the 80's, age and drugs had certainly taken their toll on the power plant that had once propelled the band for so many years. Through necessity (or laziness, I guess) the band had to adjust in order to keep on the road. They became a band that seemed to be better suited to shorter but incredibly powerful bursts of energy. A tour was no longer like the 24 hours at Le Mans, where the car was fully expected to run perfectly for long stretches. But I can't see how that could have been maintained forever. However, on those nights where the band was on, when the engine found the exact timing and fuel mix (who's kidding themselves), they were a thing of beauty as they sped down the track. To me anyway. These races certainly became fewer and farther between, but they were still there and I still go back again and again, still awed by the power of this band.

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Poster: skuzzlebutt Date: Aug 1, 2011 7:12pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

1. There are rarely any real transition jams between songs (note that I am talking about the improvisational space between one song and another- NOT the extended jamming of a song's central theme). Most "transitions" in the 80s usually consist of Jerry noodling aimlessly while everyone else stands around until they land on the next song.

2. Sloppy playing and sped-up tempos. People always try and defend this by saying "they were changing things up and trying to keep it interesting." To that, I say bullshit. To me, these coked-up slopfests scream "Our lead guitarist is a junkie going through the motions, and our bass player if half in the bag, so if it's all the same to you, we're going to wrap this ASAP and get the fuck out of here."

Despite my (extremely) strong preference for the earlier years, I actually don't completely hate the 80s. There are shows from that decade, like Augusta 8/12/84, that I return to frequently. I also think the very beginning and end of the decade contain the largest number of notable performances, with the nadir coming from 1983-86 (with the exception of 1975, when they only played four shows, 1986 is the least represented year in my collection of any year prior to 1992, which I guess speaks for itself). So while I think even a sub-par show from 1970 kicks the living shit out of the best show from the 80s, I really don't think it's ALL bad.

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Poster: dr. flashback Date: Aug 1, 2011 11:14pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

I have one recommendation for those willing to try to get into the 80's more - - - more good beer!
Yes, I will always be mainly a 68 thru 74 kinda guy. But I would hate to miss out on many good 80's shows. Back in the old GD Live days, after I got all the 70's shows I wanted,
I started exploring the 80's. and some of my fondest memories from those early collecting days are the great 80's SBD's I downloaded and experienced for the first time and "got it" about what some of the younger deadheads were talking about.

Although good weed and acid seem to be more appropriate for the 68-74 period, I find some choice beer to smooth over the rough spots and help me appreciate the 80's more.

I now regularly include 81,82,83 and 89 in my rotation, along with the famed summer of 85. So c'mon, loosen your
critical mind, open a few brewskies and kick back. Why limit
yourself to the same 1972 and 1973 shows over and over??

The "Nightfall of Diamonds" show from 10/16/89 is nearly as good as any 1973 show I've heard. Not the longest Dark Star, but the magic and quality are still there.

cheers and a frosty cold one,
Dr. Flashback :-)

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Aug 2, 2011 12:37am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

The Nightfall of Diamonds show....uh-huh. I think 10/16/89 was the first show from 1989 I heard, when I hadn't heard much but official releases, and I could tell that something was seriously wrong... It was like New-Ageish Lite-Dead Elevator Music - fell totally flat for me.
Just a matter of taste, I guess. I tried listening again to 3/24/90 recently and still didn't like that either - on the other hand, I do like the dark intensity of the 10/26/89 second set. So you never can tell...

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Poster: bkidwell Date: Aug 2, 2011 12:55am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

I agree that both this show and 3/24/90 are much more involved in the "melodic" style of jamming than the meltdown/free jazz style of some of the later era material you find more interesting. You've mentioned that timbre is something significant to your enjoyment, and midi/synth of this era is really against your taste, so I think that is probably why you don't like this show, it does have a very heavily synthetic sound. I agree it sounds dated - I can even recognize some of the lame presets on Korg synthesizers of that era used for "atmospheric/spacy" sounds. At the same time, I think this show is an example where the "notes underneath" the midi are pretty good.

I really enjoy 10/16/89, and while I agree there is not much "intensity" in the sense of freakouts or meltdowns, there is real musicality and finesse, a lot of careful, attentive playing. I do not think it is nearly on the level of the best of 73, but just using a lot of synth and midi and playing in a relaxed style isn't the same as "elevator music" - the inner life of the instruments adjusting to each other is present. The music has good flow and fluency, the improv has room to breathe, and the set has good structure and the sequence of keys works well.

Purely in terms of note selection, Jerry's lines in the Dark Star reminds me more of his 69 licks than the other late era stars, but the real high point of jamming is probably the long playin based jam into the drums. Post-space isn't as jam-filled, but the key sequence works well, the sense of closure is real, and Attics has real emotional weight.

This is one of the cases where I think the aesthetics of the "30-year long continuous group composition" concept enters into play, because joining Dark Star and Attics is a real callback to some of the most transcendent shows the band ever performed. I think when you consider the corpus of the band's recorded work as a whole, and see how a show like this fits into the chronology, the aged-ness of the vocal harmonies in Attics becomes a strong point, not a weak point.

One way the GD's music and career broke new barriers in artistic expression is this kind of long-term continuity, and it cannot be said to be a "non-musical" issue, because the tones of the voices are an objective sonic fact, measurable on an oscilloscope, so to speak. The way a show like 10/16/89 resonates in time in harmony with shows decades earlier when looking at the entire sequence of show tapes is part of what makes it a masterpiece.

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Poster: Arbuthnot Date: Aug 2, 2011 12:54pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

let me just get it out of the way and say your post here is one of the best things i've read regarding the '80s sound, not to mention a precise yet broad, learned yet understandable summary of that 10/16/89 performance, so much so that i actually pulled out my copy and gave it a listen, for the first time

i won't lie to you, i am not a late era lover and am more readily categorized as an early era fanatic, even zealot, and yet you are absolutely correct in your assesment of what is going on here musically in this show, and in more than just moments i can easily feel myself transported back to an earlier '70s era; the PITB following a fairly good, very listenable Dark Star is really outstanding, the UJB excellent with the vocals seeming to blend quite well, an excellently executed solo from 5'45-ish to the 7 minute mark, how can you not like it?

great PITB jam leading into Drums, not quite on par with what they were doing in '73 and elsewhere in that era, but i agree on it being a jamming high light

the Attics is definitely moving and emotionally appealing, and the PITB coda a perfect ending to a great performance

i'll have to re-listen to the 1st set as i was a distracted doing other things while it was playing

'i will take you home' did not get a listen for the obvious reason

great post, thanks for it and for your always excellent contributions to the forum

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Poster: bkidwell Date: Aug 2, 2011 1:23pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

I'm glad you found the show enjoyable, and thank you for your appreciation of my contributions. Like everyone else, I hear 67-75 as the band's best years by far, but I also feel motivated to speak up about the quality of some later era material. To some extent, I feel they don't get enough respect for being skilled, professional musicians.

I spent a lot of time trying to develop my skills as a musician, focusing on classical piano but also playing a ton of gigs in garage-rock bands with heavy Grateful Dead influence, and when I see some of the contemptuous commentary on the band's later performances, it makes me sad, because I would have given several toes to ever be part of making music as good as even the weaker eras of the GD.

What the Grateful Dead did musically, even in their relatively mediocre eras, is just inherently challenging and difficult. Even though I was playing music with people who were often fellow Deadheads, trying to get people to play extended free jams, and learn how to modulate between songs smoothly, hear and respond to thematic material - I just cannot describe the struggle and pain involved!

Musical listening is really challenging. Playing an instrument is hard to begin with, and group improvisation, where you have to physically perform while at the same time listening, and instantaneously composing the music you are about to perform, while finding common agreement about how parts should fit together, what the music is supposed to sound like - it is just indescribably difficult.

The run of the mill musician of any kind - rock training (often = no training) jazz training classical training - just doesn't have the skill set to do what the GD did, and it is not an easy skill set to acquire. People seem to be locked into either playing rather preset and canned parts, or playing wild and random stuff. The kind of smoothly changing organic music played by the GD in the early 70s, which can be either very organized tonally and rhythmically, or very dissonant, and moves back and forth in a controlled way - people just don't seem to "hear" the music clearly enough while playing, or lack the ear for harmony and melody. I'm just as "guilty" in this regard as any other mediocre musician, I'd give another toe for perfect pitch.

Classical musicians usually have the best ear for harmonies, and the most sophisticated ideas about "what music can do" in terms of smooth progression of ideas and organization, but usually have the least experience in improvisation. Jazz musicians usually learn how to play over changes, and how to play modally, but a lot of them stay locked into trading solos and playing over fixed heads, and perceive free music just as an opportunity to play a lot of fast random notes.

Anyway, all of that is a roundabout way of saying that a show like 10/16/89 still displays really impressive musicianship by the band, because it is still engaging with the almost-unique-in-musical-history approach to music making the band more or less invented.

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Aug 2, 2011 8:52pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

After some reflection, I thought I'd add a few words about my more "cynical" perspective on 10/16/89...

I don't want to try discussing the actual show quality - obviously, many people consider it a great show, so it's a non-debatable issue if they're enjoying things I can't get into! I do have a critical but biased ear, so I'm definitely not in the "it's all good" camp, and quite opposed to the stern "it's still the Dead so you ought to like it" viewpoint.
There's very little in 1989 Dead shows that gives me any pleasure...and much that I actively want to avoid.

I try to be up-front about my biases so people understand where I'm coming from - a lot of people here "started" in the Brent era & later moved back, whereas I bonded first with the earliest Dead sound & then could not adjust to what they sounded like in later years. (Actually I'm a bit more open about it than I used to be.)

So when I hear in this show what sounds to me like very "tinkly," decorative playing without any depth, it just shuts off any enjoyment I could get from it... As I've said, I respond mainly to the sound of an instrument, more than to the notes being played. So the prospect of Garcia sounding like a flute or a bassoon fills me with dismay! Sheer prejudice, I freely admit.

I agree that the little Playin' jam before drums is probably the highlight of the set....though the Take You Home>Miracle after drums is, well, one of those regrettable patches the era is filled with... Some people may like those tunes, though.

But I think the way a set like this emotionally resonates depends largely on what you as a listener bring to it... If the aging voices on Attics make it more moving for you, so be it. (Garcia's attempt to sing Dark Star, though, is sheer pain to hear!)
But it's possible that Attics may be one of those songs that, as Lincoln said of Shakespeare, "It matters not whether he be well or ill acted; with him the thought suffices." Just the fact of being performed in the later days could often make a song more moving - and I suspect the Dead were well aware of this, and may have pulled out Attics specifically for that purpose, to bring a tear to older deadheads' eyes! Straight audience manipulation, basically...

It's my feeling also that, to say that Dark Star is reminiscent of '69, or Playing is a little bit like '73, or Attics harks back to '70, is kind of a back-handed compliment for this show...is it really high praise to say this show almost recreates the glories of the past, like a faded Xerox? One of the things you've said before in praise of the '90s was that the Dead were still trying to create afresh and not just become the nostalgia act that many in the audience wanted. And yet here, we have the pleasant-nostalgia act in full force...

You make the good point that the Dead, for all the clutter & hype, were really at root a professional band of skilled musicians with rare improv qualities. Couldn't agree more - Garcia famously said that the Dead played like they did only after a lot of work and years of practice & constantly playing together. There is another side, though...
By 1989, they had been doing these kinds of smooth, extended jams & medleys for over 20 years, in show after show. I would think they could do this kind of set in their sleep. In other words - in Dead terms, the song medley here was an extremely familiar no-brainer. Even if, in overall musical terms, this is an impressive set, I kind of feel that after 20 years the Dead should be getting ever BETTER at these jams, and playing things their younger selves couldn't have touched. The bandmembers themselves said that was the case.... But I don't hear it very often, and especially not here.

Which touches on the "narrative of decline" you've mentioned. I've talked a lot in this thread about how the music suffered because of various band problems...and I'm probably as guilty of anyone in pre-assuming that if a show comes from a "bad" year, it just won't have much to offer. What I can offer in defense, though, is that (again, quite unlike your experience) when I first heard these later-era Dead shows, having little conception of what they might sound like, I was just horrified. I have no memories of Garcia's failing health, and little interest in his drug condition - I'd like to think I'm responding just to the sound of the music. Every so often, I do try to revisit some of these famous shows to hear them afresh; but I'm just still not warming up to them...

So I think it's a matter of taste, basically. I've been indulging myself here, but in general I don't talk about the later Dead much, feeling that it's best left to those who can appreciate those years more and hear whatever qualities might be in them. (After all, I wouldn't ask a vegetarian about the best hamburgers!) If they want to lob complaints at my beloved but unpolished '68, that's fine; it won't dim my fondness for that era!

I'll conclude by saying if it were some other later show under discussion, I might have much more positive feelings! This particular show just awoke a strong memory of revulsion & disappointment... Paradoxically, I think I may enjoy later-'90s shows more often than shows from this '89/90 period, due to the changes in style, sound, & songs...

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Poster: snow_and_rain Date: Aug 3, 2011 10:23am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

I like the Dark Star from 10/16. It starts strong, and I like the brisk pace, though it does lose a little steam as it angles toward PITB. I find the PITB>UJB part only so-so. Uncle John's is kind of a mess, actually. It always had decent jam potential, but definitely not a great song during this era. Miami is my favorite Dark Star from the tour by far.

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Poster: bkidwell Date: Aug 2, 2011 11:48pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

Very nice comments LIA. As I mentioned elsewhere, I think you perceive the music clearly and accurately, whether you enjoy it or not.

I think you highlighted an important aesthetic question with the analogy to a "faded Xerox" - I would frame the same concept in slightly different language. To me, the relationship is more like that of a freshly constructed building, and a ruin, when the original building has a large scale and architectural nobility.

In other words, the later-era GD sometimes sound to me like an "old mossy castle" which has partly collapsed. Perhaps that sounds very critical, but there is a kind of aesthetic beauty to ruins!

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Poster: jerlouvis Date: Aug 2, 2011 1:11pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

I'm going to jump on the praise bandwagon with Arbuthnot in regard to some excellent points made by Bkidwell once again in this thread,while I fall more in line with LIA on his opinion of the music,during the PITB jam into drums Jerry sounds like he is playing a glockenspiel,at some point he might as well have sat down at a keyboard.I struggle with being able to listen to it.

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Aug 2, 2011 6:48am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

Interesting statements there - I'll just offer a little setlist trivia about the connection between Dark Star & Attics:
They were played in the same show only 7 times in the Dead's history, and Attics directly followed Dark Star only three times - 6/24/70, 10/16/89, and 9/26/91.

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Poster: ringolevio Date: Aug 2, 2011 4:31am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

> have one recommendation for those willing to try to get into the 80's more - - - more good beer!

Beer goggles, maybe?

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Poster: snow_and_rain Date: Aug 2, 2011 6:08am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

"I have one recommendation for those willing to try to get into the 80's more - - - more good beer!"

Worked for Phil.

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Poster: TOOTMO Date: Aug 2, 2011 11:10am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: The DOCTOR is in!

WTF, Doc? I can't believe you're here!

I've been reading your reviews since I got here: probably six or seven years---before the Thanksgiving Day massacre. (Back when you were still double-posting http://www.archive.org/details/gd71-04-07.sbd.orf.119.sbeok.shnf ).

You, and Capn doubledose, were like GD superheroes to a sprouting head with a fistful of Maxells and WALSTIB on vinyl. (You don't know the Capn, doya?) (Course, then I found this forum and got allll screwed up.)

Let me take this chance to say thanks, "Thanks."


TOOTMO

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Poster: Jacky Hughes Date: Aug 2, 2011 9:21am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

Nice to see you back around these parts doc !

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Poster: boat man Date: Aug 2, 2011 7:57am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

I'm new to responding on this forum; hey yall.
I guess I'm writing because I'm kinda surprised at the negativity and harsh criticism in some threads in general and this one in particular.
Though I find my ear's compass points to the fall of '73 through '76, and wanders from there, I was there in the eighties and happy to see them every chance I got.
For me it was the scene. My brother and I, and our friends would pick a few runs every year and all meet up and see the shows together. Along the way we would reconnect with other old tour rats and just have a wonderful time (though the scene did get wierd in the late eighties). I loved the band my whole life and one of the things that made it unique was that they had the most loyal and forgiving audience in history and I liked being a part of that. These tapes, they're just memories, not tests to be graded.
Wier, I've always thought him one of the most under appreciated musicians ever. Playing between Jer and Phil had to be hard and yet he made it sound and look so easy. He was irreplaceable because no one could play like he did. He marched to a different drummer, even though he had two. I don't understand how one could be critical of him. He held it all together for quite a while.
Even Brent, nothing says the eighties like Brent. He was a welcome change after a couple of years of Keith going down hill; and he came with new songs. Sure, it wasn't the same old Dead, but what was the same old Dead? They changed every couple of years. They played disco versions, remember those?
Anyway, 60's, 70's, 80's or 90's, they were a great band of guy's who gave their lives to us; good days or bad, they always showed up for the party. And we are so lucky to be able to relive so many of those days on tape. Stones, or Beatles fans don't get that.
I'm not trying to offend anyone, but if all you are going on is tape, I think you missed the trip.

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Aug 2, 2011 12:41pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

Traditionally there is a lot of negativity & criticism on the forum...the longer you stay, the more you'll see that certain people are especially negative, others more positive about the full range of the Dead's career, and you'll work out who's who...

I was also surprised so many people jumped on the '80s, I'd thought they were more popular around here!
Given that, though, it's interesting that so many of us singled out the early '80s up to '83 or so as still being pretty good...

Your position is, I think, probably the most traditional one among deadheads - many people in the past have posted similar thoughts as yours.
That said, I have to strongly disagree with the idea that "these tapes, they're just memories." Many of us were never in "the scene," and some of us are not so thrilled that the band "always showed up for the party, good days or bad." (That was, after all, how years like '86, '92, and '95 happened.)
The tapes are what we have now. People who were in the scene tend to be kinder to them (not always) - but the music can be listened to on its own, and listeners don't have to be so forgiving now... I'll be the first to say that, by your lights, I missed the trip!

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Poster: boat man Date: Aug 2, 2011 1:01pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

You make a good point. Fair enough, and well said.
By "memories", I suppose I just really meant days gone by, not so much my own.
I grew up at the shows, and later,as an adult, used them for seeing people and places I might not otherwise have seen. I have no clue how many. My own memories are of the venues, the views, and the pure joy of it all.
On sub par nights, I don't recall being let down just glad that they gave me a reason to be there; chasing that ever elusive goodie.
So, I'm not so hard on the eighties, though the seventies were better. They just got older and slowed down, or what have you, as we all do. You could still hear them trying to please you, from time to time.
Anyway, thanks for your comments. And I don't think that you missed the trip at all. You seem to have gotten it just fine.

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Poster: bkidwell Date: Aug 2, 2011 2:23pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

I will tell you something you should know, in case you don't know it, since you say you are new to the forum, and I don't know how much internet Grateful Dead reading you do. Have you ever been to:

http://deadessays.blogspot.com/

Which is Light into Ashes blog, which collects a lot of his writing and research about the Grateful Dead? If you haven't been there prepared to be completely amazed and find dozens of hours of enjoyable reading and study!

LIA is, in my opinion (and probably the opinion of many others) the best writer and researcher about the music of the Grateful Dead. That is meant to take nothing away from all the other people who have made great contributions, and certainly the work of the Deadbase authors back in the day could be said to be more historically important - but in terms of writing about the band focusing on the music, and how the history of the band relates to the music, LIA has done amazing things which engage more deeply with the actual content of the music and shows than anything else I have ever read.

So, when you say he "seems to have gotten it just fine" it makes me chuckle, because in my opinion, all of us are really incredibly lucky to have someone like him writing on this forum. I may enjoy the band's later work more than he does, but I think his criticisms are well-founded and perceptive, and help me understand the music. It's an honor to discuss the issues involved with him.

Maybe you knew all that, so sorry if I was explaining the obvious to you. There are also many other great posters here on this forum who impress me with their listening observations and knowledge, or contribute in other great ways. William Tell, dead-head Monte, Althea Rose, often Cliff Hucker (when he isn't busy arguing about god-knows-what), Jerlouvis, Strat, Micah, heck, tons more - all have an amazing amount of life or listening experience with the band or both, and are generous in sharing knowledge.

Man, I love this place. Sorry to anyone I didn't shout-out in that post, I realized since I was busy talking about how awesome LIA was I shouldn't ignore all the other great posters here, if you're not on the list, I'm sorry and I'll buy a healthy fruit juice if I ever meet you as an apology. Also, since I have now descended into merely stream-of-consciousness typing, I am really excited about tomorrow's day in history. We have 8/3/69 coming up and I hope we can all talk about that show, because that show is just something else!

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Poster: boat man Date: Aug 3, 2011 4:50am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

Yes, I've read them in depth, but no, I had no idea I was corrosponding with the author. I'm humbled, thank you.

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Poster: Excess Date: Aug 2, 2011 1:33pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

To the Brent haters, all I have to say is: Watch this: http://vimeo.com/11803382 Blow Away video from 7/7/89. There's no denying Brent's power no matter how you feel about his fit with the band. Besides, how can you not like a guy who can make Jerry smile and dance like that?

Here's an interesting stat: I'm part of a FB group of Deadheads that are being used as a sounding board for the development of a online Dead game. In their poll of 500 Heads, the average age was 42 and the average age of first show was 16. That puts 1985 as the introductory year for the average Head. I don't know if 500 is enough of a sample to really paint a picture of "the average Head" but it's a decent sample.

Maybe it means that half the forum posters are full of it when it comes to "being there"..........or maybe it means that older heads just aren't into FB. But it kinda makes you wonder................

Personally, I don't think you can compare the eras of the Dead, they were constantly evolving. Pigpen's Dead was not Keith's Dead, which was not Brent's Dead. I never listened much to post Brent Dead but once I started digging through the Archive, I found a whole mine full of nuggets.

I say each era was a band unto themselves and should be celebrated for their differences not picked apart.

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Poster: AltheaRose Date: Aug 2, 2011 7:58pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

That's interesting about the game poll. How'd they get the sample? Are they really sampling "Deadheads" or "Deadheads on Facebook who friend or 'like' certain pages?" I do assume they wouldn't be targeting Deadheads per se as much as Deadheads Likely to Play an Online Game. Which will be a younger demographic by definition.

Certainly crowds grew exponentially in later years, and while not all the tie-dyed sardines in those stadiums would self-identify as Deadheads (particularly many years later), I assume it would still skew the demographics somewhat so that a non-Facebook sample might produce a similar result. (E.g. average age 42.) Would be curious to see any stats.



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Poster: jerlouvis Date: Aug 2, 2011 3:20pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

"I say each era is a band unto themselves and should be celebrated for their differences not picked apart"

Welcome to the mix,and not to be adversarial here,but why can't we feel however we want about the subject,I surely don't appreciate being told I can't be critical of something because it doesn't sit well with you.

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Poster: boat man Date: Aug 3, 2011 5:17am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

Take it easy; I understand.
I won't be critical of people being critical. I'm not a seasoned poster, just a seasoned reader of posters.

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Poster: jerlouvis Date: Aug 3, 2011 10:57am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

I did not want to make you feel unwelcome,and it had nothing to do with being critical or not being critical,when you state that someone is wrong because they don't see things the same as you,that is insulting and ignorant.I would like to welcome you and hope you become a frequent poster and look forward to conversing with you down the road.

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Poster: boat man Date: Aug 3, 2011 11:48am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

No worries, and thanks for the thought.
I realize that sentiment, sarcasm, and directness are easily misinterpreted in short unfamiliar text. I, myself tend to write a little sarcastically, but with good intentions.
I promise you, though, I never meant to imply that you or anyone was wrong. I just shot out a thought to people who don't know me. I seldom post on forums; I'm more of a "lurker" I guess.
I read this one for the great info that often comes up. Despite my take on live shows, I've collected tapes for thirty five years.
Sorry if I came off pretentious.

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Poster: Excess Date: Aug 3, 2011 1:19am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

Hey man, if criticism's your kick, I wish it for you. I'm just saying that comparing '72 Dead to '82 Dead is like apples to oranges.

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Poster: jerlouvis Date: Aug 3, 2011 10:33am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

Firstly,criticism is not "my thing",you might not want to make assumptions about people you don't know.If being critical about something has a valid place in a discussion,I will be brutally frank,that is what intelligent adults do,hippie douche bags on the other hand find it negative and counter productive to the whole GD ideal,but after all they are hippie douche bags,judging by your opening post here on the forum,telling a bunch of people you don't know how they should conduct themselves,I will go out on limb and say your handle of excess is not a reference to your level of intelligence in comparison to say,a moron,I think you are on equal footing with your average moron.You might be better suited to your goofy Facebook,GD game creating friends,because you are out of your depth here.This will hopefully close any (definitely on my part) interaction between us for the duration of your participation on this forum.

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Poster: Excess Date: Aug 3, 2011 3:47pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

.......and that's why I usually avoid forums. They're heavily peppered with misanthropic creatures like yourself who can only feel self worth through the disparagement of others under the guise of "being brutally frank".

I truly pity you. Embrace your contempt as you grow old, one day it will be all you have left.

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Poster: bkidwell Date: Aug 2, 2011 1:16pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

Welcome to the forum. I think the Grateful Dead's music is some of the best music recorded in the 20th century, and in a way I believe you have articulated both this forum's "purpose" and the source of the controversies! There is nothing wrong with enjoying show tapes as a nostalgic reminder of good times you had on tour, but there is also nothing wrong with searching for the most musically powerful statements, trying to discern just how the magic worked. To reach for my usual analogies, Schubert's waltzes are worthy of study and analysis and critical evaluation - they aren't just the soundtrack to the kind of parties they had in Vienna back in the day, although they are that, also. In all too short a span of time, everyone who ever heard the Grateful Dead live will shuffle off this mortal coil, and I certainly hope that future generations don't lose touch with the music just because they weren't there.

As others have said, don't take the negativity too seriously - if we didn't entertain ourselves by arguing about this stuff, what would we talk about? Sometimes stuff on the forum gets a little weird - "but if you get confused, listen to the music play"

This post was modified by bkidwell on 2011-08-02 20:16:11

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Poster: boat man Date: Aug 2, 2011 1:56pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

Thanks, and yes, I've discovered this. You are right, and in some way, I accept that you all are.

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Poster: unclejohn52 Date: Aug 2, 2011 11:12am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

Welcome boat man.

Don't be fooled by what you consider the harsh criticism of this particular thread. If you read through the years of posts here, you'll find that every one of us here loves the Grateful Dead, warts and all. Some were lucky enough to have seen the boys in the Pigpen days, some saw 400 shows, and some were just born too late to see them live. You'll also find some of the most knowledgeable deadheads and liveliest discussions here.

The criticism is borne out of that love, experience and knowledge of the music, much like the bickerings of a close family. And you're right - Weir is often under-appreciated, irreplaceable and unique.

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Poster: boat man Date: Aug 2, 2011 1:50pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

Thank you, for that.

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Poster: wisconsindead Date: Aug 2, 2011 2:41pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

well not to start anything. But I'd much rather the tapes than the experience. I don't know if I'd trade the ability to listen to it all (wherever whenever) vs. rarely getting tapes and getting to actually see them. AKA, go back in time.

At any rate, welcome, and glad you had a blast. But if you aint really that crazy about listening to dead, well this probably aint your spot lmao.

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Poster: jerlouvis Date: Aug 2, 2011 11:03am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

No Sir,I think you missed the trip when you said "for me it was the scene",and nothing says the 80's like Brent is really a big part of the problem,not a selling point.

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Poster: Dudley Dead Date: Aug 2, 2011 8:08am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

Well. as usual. I'm late to the party , and pretty much every thing I could have said has been said ( and better than I could have ). As I have said before , I find something to like even in 95 ! But the thing that strikes me about the Brent> years, is they don't sound like "the good old Grateful Dead".
As the years go on, they did sound like a "Grateful Dead cover band ", ( and, sometimes, a not a very good one) when doing the older songs .
As to the drug problems, many players , can create great music, when they first start, but long term, the debilitating effects are more obvious . I think by the 80's it was starting to show .
Even after getting clean, drugs like coke, can twist someone's personality . God knows what sort of , psychological ( and spiritual)? damage the band members did to themselves over the years . Though I like the later day "Dark Stars", I just don't find the "psychedelic beauty" in them , that they once were able to tap into . That said, I am looking foreword to the new 4/5-6/82 RT !

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Poster: Scrim Date: Aug 2, 2011 3:09pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

I like the 80's, and I like Brent. Sure, the early 70's rocked, but the band got older. Eaither you are on the bus or you got off.

Here's an analogy from the view of a man: when you got married, it was because you thought she was hot and sexy. But as she gets older, she starts to change and grow in different areas. Things change, they don't stay the same. You need to grow with her and accept those changes. Hell, you aren't a spring chicken anymore yourself. If you really loved her, you will accept her through better or worse, in health or in sickness.

The Dead to me are a lot more than a young band who peaked in 1974. They are the full meal deal, and I personally liked what they did all the way through the 80's.

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Poster: gratefuldiver Date: Aug 2, 2011 10:37pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

I love this thread...especially because I haven't read a single post defending the 80s because of the lack of Donna. (Admittedly, I didn't read every post verbatim, but at least 'no Donna' wasn't a reoccurring argument.) As Donna-bashing is such a common theme on the forum, it's nice to see this negativity not dragged into the "80s question". I bring this up because, for me, the keyboardist defined the era of the band more than any other single factor, and it's impossible to separate the Keith era from Donna. The argument has been made that the drug of choice could define the eras, but considering that the band members weren't always in the same place (chemically), this is a more difficult attribute to single out...especially in the late 70s and late 80s (and with Pigpen throughout his career).

So, back to the keyboardist issue. The Pigpen era was magical. Pigpen didn't bring much to the more psychedelic songs but he played the necessary background chords and, to my ears, never trashed a Dark Star or The Eleven. What Pigpen brought to the table was his stage presence and singing! The fact that he played keyboards was almost irrelevant. One of the key defining factors of the band from 1966 to mid-1971 was Pigpen (THE KEYBOARDIST) giving 101% belting out Smokestack Lightning, Easy Wind, or Lovelight and bringing the house down.

(Tom, like Bruce in the early 1990s, wasn't around long enough or consistently enough to be included in this theory, so we'll neglect Tom's obvious contribution to the more psychedelic portions of the Pigpen era.)

The Keith era was as magical as the Pigpen era. Keith and Jerry found some telepathy that allowed them to play off one another in highly improvisational jams as if each knew exactly what note/chord the other was going to play. I can sense the rebuttal: 1972 Keith was very different from 1978 Keith. Agreed, between late 71 and 73, Keith would more often take short, loud, and impressive solos that rarely occurred later. But from the middle of 1973 forward he'd be content to lay down chords in perfect time a half step ahead or behind of Jerry as needed (e.g., 29 July 1974 - Landover). By 1976 and 1977, he'd play off Jerry on a highly improvisational jam as if the two were singing a duet of a Mozart libretto, practiced for centuries. Just listen to the Auditorium Theatre (Chicago) shows from June 1976 or Comes a Time from 9 May 77 (Buffalo). Even during the periods where Keith would supposedly fall asleep for long portions of the shows in 1978 and 1979, the moments that he'd play would be as fantasitic as ever (e.g., 8 January 79 - MSG). It's not a coincidence that Jerry chose Keith as his keyboard player for the JGB shows in 1977, which (with the lack of a rhythm guitarist) require even more of Keith and he delivers in aces. (If anyone has even an MP3 of the Orpheum, Boston, JGB show from 2 December 77, please let me know.)

Which brings us to the 80s (aka, the Brent era). Brent may have had a better voice (technically) than Pigpen, but by song choice and stage presence, Brent wasn't in the same league. And even if he were a good enough musician to match Keith's skills (doubtful), his reliance on repeatedly playing hackneyed chords on a synthesizer was almost a form of torture to some members of the audience.

I agree that this is far too simplistic, but 80s = Brent, 70s = Keith, 60s = Pigpen. On the most basic level, this is what I don't like about the 80s. (Which is not to say that I don't believe the MIDI, the formulaic set lists, the burn-out, the Healy mixes, the heroin, the lack of practicing, the uninspired songwriting, the diabetes, performing in stadiums--has anyone else mentioned this???--, the recruitment of brand new teenage fans thanks to 'Touch of Gray', didn't all play important roles in making the 1980s Grateful Dead a shadow of what the band was from its beginnings to the late 1970s. But if I had to distill it to one factor: the keyboardist.

In closing, I'm not exactly new, but I don't post that often and feel like Rodney Dangerfield...not being an insider and rarely receiving feedback to my forum posts or show reviews. (And I've never written anything as 'controversial' as this.) If you made it this far, thanks for reading and (more importantly) thanks for all the great theories, anecdotes, and jokes that I read on a daily basis over the years.

...__[8]o

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Aug 3, 2011 2:14am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

Nice post.
It'll surprise no one that I'm also a big Pigpen & Keith fan, and not a Brent fan at all, so I won't get into that. It's interesting how divisive Brent is...some say he's just great & others can't stand him...

You mention a few other interesting things though, that are new to the list, like the Healy mixes. Performing in stadiums caught my eye - perhaps that was deleterious, and certainly it wasn't what the band wanted; by '91 Jerry was moaning to everyone how much he hated stadiums and was sick of playing with the Dead. (Apparently that was one reason he got on heroin again that year.) But the band adjusted to stadiums - they'd been playing pretty big places since '72, so they were no stranger to big crowds.

The fan adulation itself, though, I think contributed to the burnout. Deadheads were notorious for being uncritical & supportive, so the band got the same responses when it flopped as when it flew. Other musicians have also complained how hard it is to keep striving to be at your best when the fans don't seem to care what you play & just showing up is enough.
Weir said in '81: "The undiscriminating and unconditional love and admiration of all those people doesn't do a whole lot for the music, I'll say. We can do anything - we don't have a very critical audience. For instance, on a bad night, if the crowd goes wild after we just rendered a relatively dismal set, I feel horrible about that. I don't think they should clap at all - they should run us out of town on a rail, and they never do."

Jerry, as usual, was more blase about it. In 1980: "It's nice that they're patient and they cut us a lot of slack... They give us a lot of room. We aren't under any particular pressure to perform the greatest hits - they welcome unfamiliar stuff... We have great freedom. We can go out there and play anything, really."
And ten years later: "They know when we have a bad night, and they appreciate a good try... They've allowed themselves that latitude to enjoy a show for lots of different reasons. I think that's in their favor - no matter what the experience has been, they don't get burned."

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Poster: wisconsindead Date: Aug 3, 2011 11:50am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

"It's interesting how divisive Brent is...some say he's just great & others can't stand him..."

I find it totally amazing. I have buddies that live for brent. I recently made my buddy a few mixes of pure brent goodness. I try to get them to understand early 70's late 60s stuff but they just dont get it. They surely enjoy it, But when an 80s deal or minglewood comes on, they're in heaven.

I have a hard time understanding why many peeps think brent was a bad keyboardist, or on a lower level than pig or keith. His addition to jams just seems obvious, hes more present, and maybe thats what people don't like. That he detracts attention from the boys.

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Poster: unclejohn52 Date: Aug 4, 2011 9:22am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

see my post here regarding brent and keith: http://www.archive.org/post/387567/what-do-you-like-about-the-80s

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Poster: snow_and_rain Date: Aug 4, 2011 8:57am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

Re: People being uncritical of bad performances.

I can't speak for the pre-coma years, but I gather that from December 1986 on most fans considered it kind of a miracle that Jerry was onstage playing the guitar at all. That in itself was something worth cheering for.

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Poster: stratocaster Date: Aug 1, 2011 6:27pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

Brent's keyboard tones, Garcia's pudding throat, reluctance to jam some of the big tunes, those are my issues with 80s dead, although I love 80s dead...

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Poster: jerlouvis Date: Aug 1, 2011 7:24pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

Interesting well presented thread WD,I figure I saw round about 150 shows in the 80's,and not one show,not one set,did I see a great band.On occasion I saw flashes of a once great guitarist in Garcia,every so often Phil would actually play some inspired bass as opposed to dropping bombs,but for the most part the rest of the band was just unimpressive or worse,Weir went from being a brilliant,innovative guitarist to an abrasive,hack rock star,Billy had the handicap that is Mickey thrown in his lap thus compromising his talent.None of what was good about the 70's translated to the 80's,and while they still managed to create some good music,it on no level approaches the beautiful,engaging music they made in their prime.

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Aug 1, 2011 9:36pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

And yet you went to 150 shows.... Something tells me that, like Cliff, perhaps you felt differently at the time... The lure of deadhead chicks, perhaps?

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Poster: Diamondhead Date: Aug 2, 2011 9:53am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

That is funny and brings back some memories that are not meant to be shared. Usually full of wisdom, we don't get to see your funny bone. :)

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Poster: jerlouvis Date: Aug 2, 2011 11:27am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

Well thank you for he kind words Diamonhead,I can't speak to the wisdom business,but I will cop to having no problem sharing my opinion.I actually have a real good sense of humor,I know it might not be all that evident,but trust me I'm open to a good laugh.I appreciate a poster who I have I respected paying me a compliment,I remember some of you posts on the Universal Amphitheatre shows from 73',Hendrix shows,and Cream and various other insights.

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Poster: jerlouvis Date: Aug 1, 2011 11:06pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

Yeah,lots of pretty,somewhat like minded ladies,a less harsh attitude as to what I was hearing,although it was obvious it wasn't what it was,we held out some hope that things would get better.It was much different in 80'-81',the vibe around the scene was casual,and a lot less cluttered with people with a different agenda for being there,most folks went to go to the show and get off on the music,not the scene or drug of choice for the night,this started to change around 82'-83' for me,not with the touch heads,it was a gradual decline.You could do 30-40 shows a year just doing the east coast spring tour,a leg of the summer tour and east coast fall tour.I found an interest in free jazz around 83' and backed off on the GD,the last time I enjoyed their music live in the 80's was the 6 Dylan shows,it wasn't great ,but it was 6 shows with fuckin' Bob Dylan,I got chills each and every night,they played Joey and Frankie Lee and Judas Priest,how critical can you be.After those I don't have a single pleasant memory until the David Murray MSG show in 93'.

This post was modified by jerlouvis on 2011-08-02 06:06:51

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Poster: Jim F Date: Aug 2, 2011 12:42am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

My initial thought to the question "Why don't you like the 80's" was Bon Jovi. Then I realized that we're talking about 1980's Grateful Dead.

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Poster: William Tell Date: Aug 2, 2011 11:55am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

I was gonna say "Reagan?", but fig'd that would really start something!

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Poster: AltheaRose Date: Aug 2, 2011 1:07am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

I do enjoy the ‘80s, but at the same time, I agree with a lot of the points here. I doubt you’d find many folks who’d say that Persian somehow improved Jerry’s playing or the “Heineken years” (first half of the 80s, roughly) were Phil’s most brilliant.

Then there’s also this:

1) Everyone’s ears are not the same. The band lasted a long time. There was change, and there were ups and downs, and what are the statistical chances of EVERYONE'S ears liking ALL the changes or being able to shrug off or wade through ALL the ups and downs?!?

2) The “golden age” really is the “gold standard,” particularly in the digital era, when we can hear it all with a click. If you’re a Deadhead, which by definition means you really like the music and listen to a lot of it and respond instinctively to SOMETHING in it (however vaguely felt), you’re going to find that era eventually, even if you were born in 1990, and it will probably encapsulate the Dead Sound most strongly for you. So then you compare things with that gold standard, and depending on how you're wired (and whether you're oriented towards what bk called the "narrative of decline" vs a less linear narrative), the 80s might feel like "a different flavor" or it might just start to fail the test. That's especially true because ...

3) Some folks are connoisseurs by nature; others (like me) are just opinionated. A connoisseur enjoys the process of making judgments in a way that tends to be hierarchical or ranking-oriented. (E.g., “the best wine grapes come from La Woodeewoo, nothing good comes from Le Boopdeboop,” or “the best pashmina wool is invariably from the mountain goats of Ladakh; you can’t possibly have good pashmina from lower-altitude goats.”) Some of us just don't think that way (or might be connoisseurs of things that work with later GD, like the MIDI palette.) So we can agree roughly with the broad outlines of what connoisseurs tend to find while thinking of it more as "different flavors" (which isn't so much ranking-oriented). It's a mindset.

4) A lot of times, if you’re passionate about something or respond strongly to it (jammed-out transitions, certain instrument sounds, etc, or non-musical things like, oh, food coops vs big grocery chains), its antithesis or apparent rejection or partial abandonment can be upsetting. So instead of just saying, “Meh, I’m not crazy about that,” you end up going, “oh my god, I HATE that. It’s total crap.” It’s an emotional response. For some folks, I have a sneaking suspicion that there’s an element of that going on with later GD.

Anyway, guess that’s my rambling essay for the day ... Time to listen to some good 80s now and do something productive. But that was fun :-)



This post was modified by AltheaRose on 2011-08-02 07:55:59

This post was modified by AltheaRose on 2011-08-02 08:07:52

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Poster: ringolevio Date: Aug 2, 2011 4:35am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

Very well thought through ... IMO. (Lacking as I do an opinion about lower-altitude goats.)

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Poster: bkidwell Date: Aug 2, 2011 1:38am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

I agree with everything you wrote, AR. It really is about both the listener, and the music itself, always. I am always fascinated to read all the diverse ways everyone hears the band. You can even make a case that the diversity opinion among even the band's diehard fans is part of what makes 'em so great.

The issue of how persian affected Jerry's playing is always interesting to me, because I think Betty Cantor in an interview said that the drug was "way inside" and took people into themselves and away from interaction. I relate this to Phil's comments about people "playing ahead" and not listening as much.

At the same time, there is this amazing hypnotic fluency in Jerry's playing in the early 80s that I often really love! I think I recently wrote a comment that it almost gives me a narcotic contact buzz just listening to it. The PITB jam in particular, when he is spinning endlessly on little sinuous descending lines, often makes me feel like I'm caught up inside a Lewis Carroll type opium dream.

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Poster: ringolevio Date: Aug 2, 2011 4:39am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

I personally believe his playing was best in the early '80's. That doesn't quite track with what was happening with the band, though; doesn't mean the Grateful Dead were at their best in the early '80's.

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Poster: ringolevio Date: Aug 2, 2011 4:36am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

I really think that's true.
And anyway, in some mundane ways "interacting" is obviously necessary to do most of anything productive in the world, but I suppose in terms of playing music well it might actually sometimes be an asset to be "not interacting much" with the outside world, but largely focusing within.

Like the other thread where we were talking about how Jerry seemed sometimes to be either channeling music or looking around him in bafflement as if he had just arrived from another planet ... have we considered that maybe the drugs really were an asset musically (obviously not to him personally, in terms of health or really any other way) ... even the heroin?

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Aug 2, 2011 12:08pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

I have considered that up to a point, drugs may have been a benefit musically... A lot of musicians felt that way in the '60s.
LSD, for instance, seems to have positively helped them musically in the early days (as Phil points out, more by aiding the group-mind than by altering their playing). Cocaine must have seemed like a wonderful thing as well when they started doing it.
Blair Jackson says, "It's difficult to say how cocaine affected the Dead's music in the early '70s, because there wasn't a time in that era when most of the band DIDN'T use it. Did they play faster? Did it give them the energy they needed to play four-hour shows? ...We'll never know."
Since cocaine was a constant through the '70s, that's one reason I'm suspicious of the feeling that '80s shows are short, fast & non-jammed because they're coked-up...when getting older, tired & bored might have been equally strong reasons. Jerry's speedy, spiraling guitar lines of the early '80s are not necessarily more "narcotic" in inspiration than his drifting wah-wah lines of the early '70s....
Although with coke & heroin, I can agree with Dudley's saying that it gets more debilitating over time, and what may have helped in the '70s increasingly warped Jerry in the '80s. My theory is its influence on his playing was more indirect - as he withdrew not just from the outside world but from musical possibilities, and approached shows with more of a one-track setting, not interacting with the band & caring less about how the music came out.
(And I'd point out that many people here still like the early '80s up to '83 or so, when Jerry was way more drugged-up than he was in those glory years of '87-88, when he was relatively clean!)

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Poster: AltheaRose Date: Aug 2, 2011 2:05am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

>I relate this to Phil's comments about people "playing ahead" and not listening as much.

Also recall the three-point "open letter" on "crimes and misdemeanors against music" (or something like that) written by Phil, signed by the band and given to Jerry -- I believe right after the 1981 Barcelona show, interestingly, which is a show I really like -- where one of the crimes was "never playing with any dynamics." That's definitely an 80s weak point compared with the early 70s, where dynamics are just astounding. And I'm assuming dynamics is almost entirely about listening to each other.

But yeah, the topic of how various substances impacted the music is bound to be complicated, and is one that doesn't really seem to get addressed ... guess no one wants to touch it, LOL, except to say "acid and group mind" or "coke and playing fast" or "opiates and decline." The fact is that '77, which is much-vaunted and truly gorgeous, was a time of early Persian use by Jerry, heavy drinking by Phil, and coke-plus-you-name-it by the others, I gather.

So, there it is. Layers within layers.





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Poster: bkidwell Date: Aug 2, 2011 2:27am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Do we know which show the infamous apple juice freakouts occurred?

Since we wandered onto this topic...

Something I tried to figure out awhile ago, with no definitive result (and no written record of my researches, either) was identifying the show referred to by multiple people in 69 where multiple people got extremely dosed by some apple juice. It seems like it must be during the June Fillmore West run, Phil in his book talks about Elvin Bishop jamming.

Has anyone specifically pulled this together? I remember listening to the shows trying to hear the kind of musical strangeness described, and don't recall having a definitive conclusion or even perception.

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Aug 2, 2011 4:01am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Do we know which show the infamous apple juice freakouts occurred?

According to this, it was the June 8 show:
http://lostlivedead.blogspot.com/2010/04/fillmore-west-june-6-and-8-1969-guest.html

Which seems like the most reasonable conclusion to me.
Though there's still the question of whether they were dosed before that glorious first set, or between sets...
My guess it was before set 2, since that's when Garcia departs and Elvin comes on for a few songs.
If it was before set 1 though, and they could still play like that, then no wonder they were dosing each other all the time...

Ceballos' "singing" on Lovelight, though, may be taped proof of why you should keep away from the applejuice!

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Poster: bkidwell Date: Aug 2, 2011 12:43pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Phil's recollections of the apple juice show

Well, you have this source available to you, so I'm not giving you new information, but if Phil's memory is accurate, it was before the show started, because Phil says:

"At one point, I looked over at Jerry and saw a bridge of light like a rainbow of a thousand colors streaming between us; and flowing back and forth across that bridge: three-dimensional musical notes - some swirling like the planet Jupiter rotating at 100 times normal speed, some like fuzzy little tennis balls with dozens of legs and feet (each foot wearing a different sock!), some striped like zebras, some like pool balls, some even rectangular or hexagonal, all brilliantly colored and evolving as the flowed, not only the notes that were being played, but all the possible notes that could have been played. That moment may well have been the peak of psychedelic music for me - the combination of absolute inevitability and ecstatic freedom has never been equaled."

That quote, to me, is one of the most amazing and perfect quotations about the Grateful Dead and improvisation and LSD and the musicians onstage I have ever read - I mean, it really communicates the unbelievably transcendent nature of the experience.

The set opening Dancin definitely seems animated by flowing musical thoughts between Jerry and Phil. It sounds like one brain to me, neuron-level synchronization mirroring the musical content. At the same time, it is a little hard to believe the technical quality of the playing could be as strong as it is if everyone was actually that far gone.

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Aug 2, 2011 4:18am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

"Dear sir and brother: You have been accused of certain high crimes & misdemeanors against the art of music. To wit: Playing in your own band; Never playing with any dynamics; Never listening to what anybody else plays..."
McNally didn't quote any more, though!

The question of the relation between the drugs & the music has actually been addressed too often, I think, but also too vaguely. The fact is that Garcia was probably extremely high on something at every single show up to the mid-'80s; other band members would have fluctuated. From the early days they would've learned how to regulate themselves to be "just right" at showtime. But I don't think we can assume that the band's style in any show was determined by the drugs of choice that day, or that we can even tell. Unless someone can break down, year by year, an examination of Garcia's stylistic patterns within the Dead and within his sidebands and show how they were affected by the particular drugs he favored in those years...

For instance, cocaine. Phil calls 1981 a coke year: "Even though everyone was playing individually as well as ever, none of us was really listening to one another much, only to our own frying brain cells. I was as much a part of the problem as anyone, falling into a stupefying cycle of booze & coke abuse."
Of course Phil, by his account, had been a stumbling drunk ever since '77. 1978 would also appear to be a heavy cocaine year, with the band frequently revved-up onstage - though it actually seems to be a year by most accounts when Garcia was also very heavily into persian, which you'd think would have the opposite effect, though I guess it depends on the combination. And 1974 is the year where we have many accounts of the band going through piles of cocaine - most famously in Europe, but I highly doubt they'd been "clean" the summer before.
Yet, how similar is the music of '74 to the music of '78 or '81? Does Garcia's playing show the same familiar coke tics in all those years? How could we separate that from other stylistic choices? Did the band go through phases in-between where cocaine was more or less in use? How did different drug combinations affect the band? Can we determine that certain tours are better because Garcia must've been using less that month?
So that's why I'm saying that connecting Garcia's playing decline just to his drug use is too facile; it's really an unknown, and there were other factors at work.

That he was adversely affected over time I don't doubt, but - you know, there have been many musicians who could still play well while relatively incapacitated, and I think other issues of poor health & disinterest were equally hammering away at him. (How many heroin addicts do you know who GAIN so much weight? Drugs were the least of his problems. In the last decade, numb fingers, carpal tunnel, swollen feet, chronic bronchitis, diabetes, infected teeth, kidney problems & heart disease just might have distracted him from time to time!) I suspect the heroin he came to prefer affected his communication with the others more than the playing itself, as he became more withdrawn & less interested in the music.

A couple comments, from those in the know -
Phil, fall '84: "Jerry's demeanor onstage had been alarming, to say the least. He would stand back from his mike, staring down at the floor, while listlessly going through the show without making eye contact with anyone... His time, once banjo-precise, was now wavering all over the place - faster, slower, often in the same phrase. He'd start tunes too fast and try to slow them down, then shrug and keep speeding up... His performances were perfunctory and lifeless, and he was increasingly uncommunicative and solitary offstage as well. Even though he showed occasional flashes of his old self, Jerry's increasing heroin use was debilitating him to the point that his health was of major concern to us."

Bruce Hornsby on the MSG shows, fall '91: "It was really a dogshit run. Garcia was in this place I couldn't understand...he'd put his head straight down and look at the floor the whole time, hunch over and not communicate with anyone. And that wasn't like him...we'd always had a lot of eye contact and interplay, really a lot of good feelings onstage. But it wasn't just that - he sort of wasn't listening and was starting to run roughshod over people's solos...and I thought at times the music just seemed strangely lifeless. I asked Bobby about it and he explained it to me... I went into Garcia's tent and said, 'There's nothin' happening here and I really resent your coming to this gig and not putting anything into it...' And he said, 'Well man, you don't understand 25 years of burnout!'"

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Poster: wisconsindead Date: Aug 2, 2011 2:36pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

great post

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Poster: chris in long beach Date: Aug 1, 2011 7:45pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

I didn't really get into this music until about 5 years ago, and the first stuff I discovered was from the early 70's.

That kind of spoiled me.

Now, I'm far from an expert on any era of the band, but after listening to a lot of 71-74 and 77, everything in the 80's just seemed...weak?

Ok, I can't say everything...those Radio City Music Hall performances were pretty damn good (and I'm sure there were others).

Maybe it's the contrast in performances that make it hard for me to stomach the 80's?

Ok, more specific...

Brett's keyboard sounds. Ugh.
Drums/Space- I know lots of folks love it, I can't stand it
Two Drummers-Takes up too much sonic space
Guitar tones weren't pleasing
Bob started hit talking/singing hybrid
The songs didn't interest me
Everyone seemed to be going through the motions.

That's my rather uneducated opinion :)





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Poster: unclejohn52 Date: Aug 2, 2011 9:30am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

Most of the downsides of the 80s have been covered here at length, sloppy playing, speedy tempos,vocals, etc... one aspect lightly touched on is THE SONGS themselves.

We know that song-writing was not one of Garcia's favorite things. The drop-off in song production is readily apparent from the Beechwood chart. ( if you haven't seen it: http://www.scribd.com/fullscreen/60257224 ) Some of the songs from the 80s are just barely listenable, and they are lacking the GD magic. Every one has their own list they dislike from this period. Suffice it to say, at least imho, Picasso Moon, Feel Like a Stranger, Built to Last, Victim, Hell in a Bucket, most Brent tunes, hackneyed Dylan covers... just don't cut it.

It's also telling that they never came up with any new "jam vehicles" - like PITB, TOO, Dark Star - these were decades old. It's no wonder they played them by rote, and Garcia no longer put full effort into them every time. Putting it into SDH's automotive metaphor - those songs had a lot of miles on 'em, and the trade-ins were Gremlins. Or in their own words - "nailed a retread to my feet and prayed for better weather."

Still - is there any other band with so glorious a career spanning 4 decades? Not!

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Poster: davebigdaddy Date: Aug 2, 2011 4:31pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

MIDI

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Poster: bkidwell Date: Aug 2, 2011 2:07pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

I will speak up here on behalf of "Victim or the Crime" which I believe to be the most unfairly maligned song in the band's catalog. I understand why people don't like it, I suppose, but I think it is a really well written piece of music, that extends the boundaries of the band's musical language in a good way.

I actually wish the band had written a lot more songs as interesting as Victim or the Crime, and had even more ambition in exploring its dark contours.

In a musical sense, the song is just put together radically differently than how rock music is usually arranged. Instead of a conventional chord progression, the music is woven together of distinct melodic lines and harmonic lines which grind against one another as they move. There is a real dynamic tension within the music that is missing from most rock and roll.

Since I always overdo the classical comparisons, I don't see any reason to stop now. Here is an example of another incredibly UGLY piece of music, where the ugliness is part of the greatness. This movement was so ugly it got kicked out the quartet it was written for to make room for something nicer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vcRFVh7KNQ

You can hear some of the same "grinding" process of parts following their own line even if it collides harshly with another line. Needless to say, this work by Beethoven is much better than "Victim or the Crime" - but it's better than "Ripple" also.

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Aug 2, 2011 9:20pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

I thought Althea was kind of cool. But, if that's the best tune you can come up with in a decade.... I also have harsh feelings about most of the post-Terrapin songs.

Garcia also lamented in the '80s that they weren't coming up with new jam vehicles - during the period when they weren't doing Dark Star, he said he didn't want to bring back the old stuff the band used to do, but wanted to find new open material. That said, he didn't try very hard, and it wasn't til the '90s that they really started opening up a few new things, almost by accident....

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Poster: Cliff Hucker Date: Aug 1, 2011 6:38pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

Lack of extended free-form jamming...

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Poster: William Tell Date: Aug 1, 2011 9:38pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

Well articulated responses, and nice to see no one wringing their hands over "DEAD bashing" as it is all clearly provided by those that have given thought to it, love the band, and were sad to see it come to this.

For me, having been a fan since 67 with the first album, but unable due to age to see them til 74, and then dropping them as much due to the ever-enlarging "scene" I've lamented so often (more than about 3k worth of folks, even of like-minds, and the "experience" is just not right, IMHO) in 82, I provide input with having only seen a handful of West Coast shows before calling it quits in 82.

Separate from the growing show associated scene, which I disliked, for the band, again as so often lamented, the key elements were declining vocals, and changes in Jerry's tone/style from the raw, charging energy of the 60s to the laid back, subdued tinkering (however much his talent might have increased in the 70s, this change, to me, was evident by 73, whether guitar change or Wake material associated, whatever) that just never really grabbed you by the balls and sucked you into a full blown, fast moving train to which you could barely hang on...Finally, I never thought Hunter lived up to his early material, so song writing dropped off dramatically, IMHO; Weir & Barlow just never did a thing for me--sorry.

Energy; vocals; stagnation; drugs; broken-down, over-toured worn-out band members...that covers it all for me.

JOTS always asked "didn't you enjoy the shows, you bastard?!" to which I always reply, "yes, but with some feeling of let down relative to expectations..." and I'd add: "by the 80s, though, I came away from shows saying no more" and unlike my retirement here, it stuck for ~ 20 yrs.

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Poster: reviewr Date: Aug 2, 2011 7:23pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

It seems a lot of people have already responded to this, so please forgive any repetition - I'm not going to read all the other posts.

For me it's not so much that I dislike the 80's, but in comparison the 70's are just more interesting (all the one-time-only jams). Every year offers good shows, but the good ones came more consistently in the '70s. There is that special magic thing that no one can really explain that happens more frequently in the early years.

My mind always wants to compare things. So, I may hear a really good version of song X from any show 80, but can almost always think of a better version of that same song performed some time in the 70's. Therefore, I call the 70's better, but not the 80's bad.

Of course there isn't a real cutoff. It's not like 12/31/79 was good, and then 1/1/80 was bad. For me most of the high points of the 80s happened in '80, '81 and then we have to wait for '89 and '90.

There is one thing I do dislike about the 80's: when Brent sings lead. I like him on keyboards and backup vocals, but rarely like to hear one of his original songs.

As a side note, I first saw them in '82. It was good enough to keep me coming back for more, and more...

Oh, yea. One more thing to dislike. There insistence to play Me & My Uncle> Mexicali Blues. The early Uncles can be good, but I don't think I ever met a Mexicali that I liked. Just wasting time.

This post was modified by reviewr on 2011-08-03 02:23:55

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Poster: deadpolitics Date: Aug 2, 2011 2:49pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

My biggest gripe with the 80s is that sometimes you listen to a whole show and there are only a few gems. In the 80's the gems in the rough made whole shows "great" while in the earlier days, the energy could be "great" for the whole show or a series of shows or the majority of the year.

http://www.archive.org/details/gd1982-07-31.mtx.chappell.sb11.30625.sbeok.flac16

This Scarlet Fire is fucking awesome for any year of GD and there are a few other gems here but wheres the consistency?

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Aug 1, 2011 8:24pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

Awful songs, wrecked aging voices, the grating touch of Brent, ghastly guitar tones, appalling drumming, MIDI, tired setlist formulas, lame covers, almost anything Weir sings, entire sets spent "warming up," jams that barely happen, an increasing reliance on a smothering tinker-bell synth sound, and a steady descent into tastelessness.

That said, I don't see the "Brent and Beyond Years" as one big undifferentiated block. The early '80s are still enjoyable - for me, '85 is when the downhill sledding accelerates. By the time the band starts digging into the jams again in '89/90, their overall sound is just not appealing to me (I respond to sounds more than notes), and to some extent I hear them as a 'cover band' of themselves. All the same, there are still many moments I like in the '90s, too - mainly the noisy weirdness & the ballads.

It's been observed that they were still a great band compared to any other band out there - I agree that no one else is in the same ballpark as far as that kind of music (no other band had Jerry, let alone Phil), but I compare the Dead not to other bands, but to themselves.

This is leaving aside the issue of what they were NOT playing anymore by the '80s...but that is also a factor in my feelings as well. As far as the songs they were playing, the Dead's new material post-'77 is pretty much a dark & dreary waste to me, save for a few of Garcia's songs.

The funny thing is that Garcia said in the '80s that he thought they were playing better than they ever had, and their shows were much more consistent after Brent joined. (I think he found Brent much more of a 'partner' & obviously more enthusiastic than Keith had been in the late '70s.) Lesh & Weir also both felt that 1990 was a career highlight, and these guys' standards probably have more 'objective' validity than my opinions!

They all consistently said through the '80s/90s, though, that they never rehearsed anymore - never had the time, didn't feel like it, etc. Often one will say he'd love to bring back an older song, but...well, it's just too hard... In interviews, it sounds like they never even talked to each other about the music - I've found numerous instances of that. Sometimes, obviously they must have - a few years in particular they're bringing some new things out - but in general I feel there was a lot of burnout & compromising & taking the easy route in how they approached their shows. (Some of this had to do with being a band democracy, in which they'd only do something if everyone wanted to do it - which over time, on top of the limited rehearsals, eliminated a lot of options. For instance Weir said, "We didn't play St Stephen for 20 years because Garcia didn't like the bridge!")

Lesh's main complaint about the '80s sometimes (besides Jerry's drug problems, which the rest of the band just kind of silently resented & worked around) was that the band wasn't listening to each other, got stuck just playing the same old grooves, and often rushed through the sets without taking time to 'open up' the jamming opportunities - I think this is one reason he found 1990 to be a more rewarding year than the '80s had been for him. (Needless to say, he and the others loved MIDI. As has been noted before, by contrast Lesh often seemed rather bored or barely present during early '80s shows up til '83...but everyone in the band probably went through phases of disinterest.)

This is what Lesh said about the '90s in '97:
"We had two new keyboard players, and there was the potential for even greater interaction. And many times that did take place, but...it was starting to calcify in a sense. For one thing, we had been doing the same two-set format, where we'd open up with the first set, usually just songs by themselves - kind of a warm-up set where we'd just feel our way into what was going on, and the vibe, if you will, of the audience; and then a second set where we would try to stretch out and really create something new, especially in the transitions between songs and in the jams that would be part of the songs... We'd been using that format, I guess, since the late '70s, and it was starting to get very predictable. In other words, certain songs would surface in the same points in the set every so often; it was like rotation. And everybody in the band was aware of that, and we were trying to figure out new ways to do it. Sometimes we would decide before we went on for the second set that we were going to tell a story, in the "Space" part, and that all the songs that led up to "Space" would lead up to that story, and the songs after that would lead away from it. And we would try all kinds of mental tricks, really, to bring freshness to that part of the show, and to the format. But we were really locked in to that kind of format, and as the '90s wore on, it became for me more solidified...there weren't as many of those magical shows that were just magic all the way through as there had been in earlier years. And I think that when you play together for 30 years, there is the potential for that to happen. And I'm sorry to say that it did feel to me that that was what was happening in the '90s. Not that there weren't great shows, and not that there wasn't plenty of fine music played. It's just that the consistency and the height of where we could take it, with the help of the audience, was less, I felt, in the '90s. Of course, we didn't survive to play all the way through the '90s, so I can say that -- as I said, everybody in the band was aware of this, and we were trying to figure out ways to make it different. And there was a movement afoot to take another year off, and if we had been able to do that, and rethink everything, I think when we came back it would have been very different."


(By the way, I think there should also be a twin thread, What DO You Like About the '80s?....)

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Poster: wisconsindead Date: Aug 2, 2011 2:12pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

I agree (about the I like the 80s), and if it hasnt been made yet, I will be making one. Also kinda wanted to make a thank you thread as this one really churned out some killer responses.

btw, you brought up some great points, and phils quote was... (italian person holding fingers up to face with a kiss)

This post was modified by wisconsindead on 2011-08-02 21:12:40

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Poster: boltman Date: Aug 2, 2011 5:26am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

"...but I compare the Dead not to other bands, but to themselves."

An early Dead (67-73 w/occasional 77 forays) listener, your gem of a thought here finally put it into perspective for me. I listen to many different bands and genres, but the Dead reigns supreme in my pantheon of music. I stay out of the early Dead v later Dead debates because I don't have the depth and breadth of knowledge that so many here have.

You can't compare the Dead to any other group because there is no comparison. Their devolution reminds me of Miles Davis. Absolute genius and very painful to watch him play toward the end of his life.

Anyway, thanks for that thought. It helps me gain perspective and frame my thoughts regarding the issue.

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Poster: bkidwell Date: Aug 1, 2011 10:46pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

I think the most valid, and most significant reason why later era GD is of lesser quality was perfectly stated by Cliff: "Lack of extended free-form jamming..."

That to me is the bottom-line, more or less unarguable aspect. The full-band jamming on PITB, Dark Star, Other One, and other songs ranging from Viola Lee Blues to Here Comes Sunshine and Truckin, is simply incomparable in the 68-74 period, and represents the core of the band's achievement and claim to be the greatest rock band of all time, and to have transformed their art form. I think more or less everyone agrees with this! The debates enter about whether or not the band's later career was "still awesome, just less consistently transcendent" or "the band became a pathetic, drug-addled shell of its former self."

I personally strongly believe the GD never actually "lost it" until the tragic year of 1995, and that the more "absolutist" critics of the later years exaggerate the negative and fail to discern many positives.

I personally love the 80s. Do I love them as much as I love 68-74? No, not at all - but I don't love Beethoven's 2nd symphony as much as I love the 9th, either, and I don't love Haydn as much as Mozart.

I have spent a lot of time trying to learn to hear what the many critics of post-75 GD complain about, and I usually agree that the differences in the music they are responding to are audible and significant. I do not personally have the same negative reactions to many of them, and I think the weighting of the different pluses and minuses is pretty subjective, and often people are reacting to what I think of as a "narrative of decline" which biases perceptions, as well as the natural change in everyone's degree of emotional response as the aging process occurs, in listeners and performers both.

One of the reasons many of the criticisms made in this thread are not really very convincing for me on the emotional level is that they don't sound very different than the reasons that those who dislike the GD give for not enjoying the band at all! "Sounds ugly, bad songs, drugged out noodling" - there are a lot of non-Deadhead people who hear a great 1970 GD show and apply the same adjectives to it as those who dislike the 80s apply to the band in those years. There are "mirror complaints" about the early years. Don't like Brent's keyboard sounds? Point to Pigpen's banal Dark Star organ work in 68. Don't like the singing? Plenty of blown harmonies in group singing (especially ambitious stuff New Potato) early on, these guys were never opera singers.

I think there is a process whereby people both apply a narrative bias to their perceptions, and also "train" their own reactions. The Brent early 80s keyboard sound is a good example of this, for me - I agree it sounds dry and percussive, but I don't hear it as "spoiling" the music, or even the musical value of Brent's part. I think once someone decides they Don't Like That Plinky Sound it becomes Pavlovian - the negative association with the sound shuts down the neural systems in your brain that experience musical pleasure.

I think the process applies to how we hear the instrumental lines, as well. When you have the idea in your mind "Garcia was too drugged out to play well" then the same series of notes that might sound enjoyably loose and mellow to you on one recording can sound like sloppy noodling on another recording.

I also think 1990 was a better year than any year of the 1980s, better even than 76-79 with the exception of the best May 77 shows. It's really the fall 89 through early to mid 91 that has the return of a lot more serious jamming, better and more interesting song transitions, exploration of new sonic spaces, more or less everything good about the GD, including new material with jam potential.

I'm actually genuinely surprised the 89-91 era isn't beloved by even those who are skeptical about a lot of the rest of the post hiatus years. When I started listening seriously to the GD, it was right at the end of that period, and it was pretty much conventional wisdom that the GD had really stepped up their game immensely starting in 89. That consensus seems to have evaporated, if the general opinion of this forum is a good indicator. The "Formerly the Warlocks" box set seemed to get a very "meh" response around here, which more or less baffles me, in this case I think the Official GD Establishment in their choice to make it a special release is more correct in aesthetic appraisal than those who dismissed it.

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Poster: snow_and_rain Date: Aug 2, 2011 6:13am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

Man, you are really starting to sound like someone I used to know at a now-defunct forum that will remain nameless. Perhaps I'm wrong, but the parallels are really quite striking. Good cop?

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Poster: bkidwell Date: Aug 2, 2011 10:05am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

If there is any question about my identity, or any perception that I am connected to other "personas", I am willing to provide proof that everything I post here is completely straightforward and honest. I am posting under my real name, and I can document that my self-description as a trained musician (UW school of music, nothing elite or anything) and former member of numerous minor GD-influenced bar bands is accurate.

This forum is the only substantial internet discussion of the Grateful Dead I have taken part in since usenet in the 90s, apart from some half-hearted efforts to interest the young people of 4chan's /mu/ board in the Grateful Dead. Since that is not a "now-defunct forum" I am quite confident I am not the individual of which you are thinking.

I confess I am rather curious who I am being confused with, was there another poster who was associated with an obsession with trying to fit the GD into the tradition of European art music as exemplified by Ludwig B. and the boys?

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Poster: ringolevio Date: Aug 2, 2011 4:32am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

>The more "absolutist" critics of the later years exaggerate the negative and fail to discern many positives.

Yes, partly because they don't listen to the later years. Once they've made a decision as to their preference they're not going to listen anymore, so their opinion is unlikely to ever change. Just human nature.

Some of it's personal experience, too. I saw one show in 1990 after not having seen them since the mid-80's, and the one show I saw totally sucked. So it's been pretty hard for me to listen to 1990, though in fact there are some terrific shows from 1990. Just not the one I saw ...

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Poster: AltheaRose Date: Aug 2, 2011 8:25am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

That's funny. I also saw them again in '90 after not having seen any shows since '85, except in my case I got tix for all three nights of a run. I was excited, but at the same time, rather anxious about whether it would be a letdown, if they were still good anymore, etc.

Probably the anxiety helped, LOL, cuz everything sounded great compared to my overblown concerns and I was just thrilled the whole time ... being in the 2nd row one night didn't hurt, either, LOL ... though I do recall thinking, after the 2nd night, that maybe I should bag the 3rd on the theory that I'd already had two good nights (one better than the other) and, well, what were the odds?

Saw them a few other times in the 90s. Each time, I was anxious beforehand, and each time, I enjoyed it -- and felt relieved :-) Of course, maybe that's why I'm inclined to both WANT to find good shows from the 90s, and also not to search too hard (perhaps in case I don't!).

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Poster: ringolevio Date: Aug 2, 2011 9:24am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Why Don't You Like the 80's?

Yeah. Expectations color everything. When I saw them in 1990, I didn't really whether they were any good or not - I wasn't particularly interested at that point in my life, I only went because a deadhead friend rolled through town (still following them) and insisted I go (and couldn't understand why I wasn't interested in "all three nights"). So my expectations were based on the previous shows I had seen, which were early 80's. Well, the show was certainly nothing like I had remembered.